Top 4 Tips On Ball Position Woods, Irons/Hybrids and Putter
Through time, many golfers have struggled with ball position for all the clubs in their bag. Each club is longer in length than the next one and the difference between a driver and wedge is very large. When beginners take up the game and go through their first series of instruction, they’re given the basics on ball position and not told the reasons as to why it must change with different clubs.
The common driver length is 45.5” and the wedge is 36”. If we assume a similar ball position and stance width for both the driver and wedge, we’ll see one ball flight thrive and the other dive. This means we have to alter our stance, hand position and ball position to accommodate the varying lengths.
Generally speaking each category of club should see a similar set up at address. These categories are the driver/woods, middle irons/hybrids, short irons/wedges and of course the putter.
The largest misconception with ball position is that most individuals move the ball up or back in the stance but don’t alter the width of their stance. When hitting a normal shot, the ball position shouldn’t be moved up or back, but rather the stance widens or narrows depending on the club we’re hitting. If someone is looking at you straight on, they should see the ball position lie just ahead of the center of your chest. If you’re looking down from the player perspective, it should lie just ahead of the center of your stance. The idea here is that when our weight moves forward toward the target the club arc actually bottoms out slightly ahead of center from the starting position.
The only time we would move the ball in our stance is to alter the flight of the shot. If you’re attempting to hit the ball high, you may want to move the ball up a couple inches in your stance. If you’re attempting to hit the ball low, you may want to move the ball back a couple inches in your stance.
Ball position should always be a part of the pre-shot routine. Most professionals and experienced players will walk into their address position. You’ll see them step in one foot at a time and settle into the proper width of stance for the club and shot they’ve selected. Once you have the understanding of how to set up with each club, this process becomes second nature. A pre-shot routine is very important and those that play good golf, have a very repetitive routine where ball position and alignment are key set up factors.
The following tips will help you understand the correct ball position for each category of club.
A misconception in ball position with these clubs is that it “moves up” in the stance. Therefore a player will take a normal width stance and a forward ball position causing a number of different flaws. The proper ball position should be a couple inches past center with a wider stance than our irons and wedges. Due to the length of these clubs, the ball will also be positioned a couple inches further away from the body to allow for a shallow swing path and wider takeaway. At impact we should see very little contact with the ground and with our driver we should be hitting the ball on the upswing.
There is much confusion over where an individual’s ball position should be with a hybrid. Since the hybrid is very similar in length to a long or mid iron, we need to have a similar ball position. These clubs include the 7 iron down to 3 iron and any number of hybrid. The proper ball position for these clubs is a couple inches ahead of center. However, we now require a stance no wider than the outside of our shoulders. Since we’re hitting irons and hybrids, they require a descending blow or hitting the ball first. As we narrow our stance, we create a more upright swing which increases the probability of hitting the ball first and the ground second. If the ball is positioned correctly, we should achieve solid contact.
Just like in the previous tip, the ball remains just a couple inches ahead of center. But since we are using much shorter clubs, we need to narrow our stance even more. The width of the stance should be no wider than our shoulders. As our stance narrows, the ball looks as though it’s moved back when in reality it’s positioned similar to all other clubs. It’s very important that we strike wedges and short irons on the downswing. A narrow stance and consistent ball position allow for this to happen.
The ideal position for the ball while putting is similar to all other clubs. We should have it a couple inches ahead of center. We want a slightly forward ball position because it’s important to have our putter strike the ball on the upswing. This gives the putt the truest roll with no skidding.